By: Christy Au-Yeung

Viet Fashion Week might not be as big as New York or Paris fashion weeks, but the excitement in the air at The Casino, Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., this spring was palpable.

In its fourth year, Viet Fashion Week (VFW) is the occasion when international Vietnamese fashion designers, many from the United States, showcase their latest creations, some for the first time.

The event, hosted by organizer Runway Entertainment, provides an opportunity for the public to see the artistic talents of Vietnamese designers. It also gives designers a platform to showcase their work.

“Each year is a learning experience,” explains Tracy Pham, founder and director of VFW.

“We change venues to keep the environment interesting but each new venue comes with new problems and challenges. The brand has grown and is now well recognized, so marketing and promoting the event is much easier.”Viet Fashion Week. “We see young designers emerging and really stepping up and pushing the envelope,” says Pham.

This year, international Vietnamese designers included Jacky Tai, Calvin Hiep, Xuan Bui, Nguyen Dung, and Yvon Nguyen. Many of the new looks that emerged on the runways were inspired by traditional Vietnamese costumes.

Yvon Nguyen

Trang Bui

Calvin Hiep

Calvin Hiep, owner of Hyp Fashion and Beauty, featured ao dai in his latest collection titled Illusions. His clothing explored the theme of real and virtual life, and expressed the “silent struggle between good and evil, disguised perfectly by the lavishness of the ladies.”

Black, the central focus of his collection, is fused with tradition. “It is the colour of our existent inner desire for domination. I use the exquisite traditional ao dai to honour the elegance and strength of women whose slender appearance contains a magnificent power,” Hiep explains.

Xuan Bui

Xuan Bui, who is a freelance model, celebrity nail stylist and burgeoning designer, joined VFW for the first time to see where the opportunity would take her. “Participating in Viet Fashion Week was a one-of-a-kind experience,” she says.

Bui admits she faced a few challenges. “Just trying to get my vision right wasn’t easy. So staying on top with constant communication was key to having a successful runway show,” she explains.

Jacky Tai

Westminster-based fashion and costume designer Jacky Tai, a second-time participant of VFW, opened the show with his latest collection. “It was an opportunity to introduce to the fashion community something that is different from what they would normally expect from me and what we have in our store,” he says.

“It’s not just about having fun but we are also helping create a fabulous event for fashion fans. As new designers are recruited, we can introduce them to the community,” he says.

Participants agreed that the fashion bar had been raised. “Each of us showcased and set our own standard for this year’s show,” explains Tai.  “It was heart pounding backstage to watch each of the outfits come to life on the runway. I loved the reaction from the audience.”

Already, Tai’s creative wheels are spinning. “My problem is what to do next year? I guess we’ll wait for the surprise!”